Delores Handy word of the day

Tempted to go with "farn" (as in, "from another country"), but that's at least a standard pronunciation in some dialects, albeit not hers, which makes it messed up.

I'm going to go with "IZZrul" instead (as in, Jewish state in the Middle East).

(There were also a couple of "ath-uh-lete"s today, but that's too easy to give her any credit for. I'm sticking with words you actually have to try really hard to possibly mess up).


39 comments:

Kyle said...

It's the W in WBUR that gets me! Doubllll-ee-ew? Something like that. Some mornings I just sit there repeating it to myself.

Karen said...

Oh Kyle, you beat me to it! How many syllables and extra consonants does she put in that one poor "W"??

Anonymous said...

...you are listening to ninety "puont" nine...

Toddb said...

I was starting to wonder if I was the only one who she drove crazy with her mispronunciations and stammering. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

You seem to be a Board-Certified Asshole. Like you're perfect at every aspect of your job?

give the woman a break!

Anonymous said...

As a "certified mental health worker" you should be ashamed of your snarky judgemental attitude. As a gay woman (which,if I were to satirizing you, I'd have said "bull dyke") you should be a little more accepting of differences. Didja know Ms. Handy is from the south? Didja know she's won more kudos during her career than you, little rat-faced bitch, could ever dream of winning? Didja know she's just another strong, loving woman who works hard to make a good life for the two kids she adopted? This is the first and the last time I'll ever look at your blog. From what I see, all you do is rag on things. If you were nicer, you might have more friends and have less anger. Y'know, I've noticed that "mental health workers" are sometimes the least tolerant and most neurotic people around. Get some help before you end up a miserable old woman.

Anonymous said...

I'm assuming you are all CONTRIBUTING listeners?? I would expect more from actual NPR listeners. But, since you are all so PERFECT, I guess you can sit on your high and mighty thrones and dissect others. You must have great jobs! The "mental health" expert needs some mental help!

Anonymous said...

Handy's odd vocalization, which btw has nothing to do with being from the south or being an otherwise great person, is one of the reasons I don't contribute and frankly don't listen to anymore.

Kate said...

I was screaming at the radio when I heard "Is-rull" yesterday. There's also "sec-cuh-ra-tary" and "thuh-rrree" to add to the list. I'm sure she's a grand lady, but if part of your job is is to talk clearly, you have got to be able to talk clearly.

Anyway, thanks for posting so I don't feel so alone in my frustration. And ignore the bad-tempered comments if you can.

Anonymous said...

Speaking clearly doesn't have to speaking vanilla. I'm amazed that anyone who's enlightened--a state which I apparently wrongly attribute to fellow 'BUR fans--would even be slightly disturbed by an accent of any sort or a different cadence. I also find Delores' particular way of talking amusing at times, but it's endearing not irritating. I still give to the station and listen whenever I can, because I've not found another spot on air that gives me such smart, varied news and programming. Really? You stopped listening because of one person's pronunciation? C'mon now.

eeka said...

Usually I delete pointless comments, but this anonymous ranter actually adds to the discussion in an ironic way.

Anonymous apparently can't follow comments policies. There are constructive ways to express an opposing viewpoint (that one would presumably be comfortable attaching to one's name), and I'd be happy to hear these, but someone apparently lacks the maturity and tact to do this. This says a lot more about them than it does about me or my readers.

Also, for the record, I do not and will not make fun of people who have speech impediments or who speak in a dialect different from my own. I'm a strong believer that the words of people need to be listened to no matter how they're said. Incidentally, I've written a published paper about discrimination relating to accents and dialects, and also one about vocal fluency disorders. I have not and do not plan to make fun of people who present educated and original viewpoints using atypical speech; Barbara Walters, Diane Rehm, Bill Clinton, James Kahukwa, Oprah Winfrey and Thomas Menino come immediately to mind. These are all intelligent people whose speech isn't "standard" American English, and who deliver their thoughts competently and effectively (regardless of whether I agree with these thoughts).

Delores Handy, on the other hand, does not consistently speak ANY recognized dialect of English, nor does she present as having any phonological or fluency disorder. Her pronunciations are wildly inconsistent. Her voice use is also unsupported and characterized by glottal fry and air stoppage.

While she may well be an intelligent and skilled person, the only context in which I've encountered her is one in which her job is to read things. In other words, her essential job skill is to be a voice. And since she has put herself in the public eye as a voice, and she lacks the most basic voice skills, then yes, I am going to make fun of her voice. But only her voice. I have no evidence suggesting that she's not an intelligent and lovely person, so I would never make any other pejorative remarks about her. Much like I would also not hesitate to make fun of the motor skills of an NBA player who constantly dropped the ball and tripped.

Sometimes the mind becomes so open that the brain falls out.

(Oh, and "board-certified asshole" is just brilliant. I think I might make a t-shirt that says that!)

eeka said...

(Also, for the record, I obviously listen to NPR quite a bit. I also contribute financially to them and have been on air.)

Peter said...

Wow! People really took this personally, huh? I just stared following because I saw today's Universal Hub and thought it was hysterical.

Charley on the MTA said...

"Glottal fry and air stoppage." Uh huh. I'm a professional singer and voice teacher, but your ears must be a hell of a lot more golden than mine. *I'm very impressed!*

(I think Dolores has a lovely voice and delivery. I like the quirks -- and everyone has them.)

G. L. Dryfoos said...

Ms Handy's attempt at the "W" makes me think of a hurdle racer who's never sure if she's going to clear the next hurdle. Sometimes she makes it over the "double-you" pretty cleanly, but other times, it's all caught toes and skinned knees and elbows.

But she's nowhere near the worst.
WBUR has also got a guy who literally sounds like he's got a neurological problem saying "double-you". It usually comes out like "DOPE-*-L you" -- where the * is a kind of deep choked-off "glug" or Homer Simpson's "d'Oh!". I don't know his name, he's a fill-in announcer often working weekend afternoons.

You'd think that one basic job requirement for any radio announcer east of the Mississippi would be the ability to pronounce "double-you". But apparently you would not be correct.

Anonymous said...

I know this thread is from August but I have to comment. I cannot deal with Dolores Handy from wbur. I have been a lifelong NPR member and donor, and she drives me crazy. I actually got XM radio and I listen to other NPR syndicates just so I can tune her out on my commute home. I feel so much better that others share my viewpoint, though that means we all share in the pain. Bob Oakes is no prize either. I've recently moved here from NYC and really miss Brian Lehrer and the wnyc shop, which is fantastic. I've been stewing about Handy for a year now and one day I decided I was going to call and make a formal complaint (as a paying member) but when someone answered the phone I just couldn't bring myself to do it. I know she's an accomplished journalist and probably a wonderful person, but she is not, in my opinion, the right fit for an announcer.

Thanks for allowing us to vent here.

eeka said...

Most recent anon, that's exactly it! She's obviously a brilliant and extremely accomplished person, and her writing and the work behind it has won many well-deserved awards.

But she's a horrible public speaker. In addition to the petty stuff that many of us here have fun with, she's actually hard to comprehend at times. Like when her cadence sounds as if she's reached the end of a sentence, and then she throws in the rest of the sentence as if it were an afterthought. I'm guessing she just doesn't read aloud very fluently or skillfully. Which is no big deal, unless you're choosing to read news over the radio.

The whole issue would be much less interesting if she just sucked. It's intriguing because she's so accomplished and brilliant, yet chooses to publicly do something she's not very competent at.

Anonymous said...

I work at WBUR and while all your remarks are beautifully observant as far as Delores's pronunciation, the fact that you're attacking her for her diction is...well, petty, ignorant and amazingly uncharitable. Oh, and speaking of charity, so many of you have said that you contribute to the station. Yeah, I've heard that before. Even if you do, I seriously doubt that you give much more than the barest minimum, and even then, contributions are not what drives editorial content...thank God. You all need to find a better hobby. Oh, and Eeek: you are truly one of the most narcissitic, nasty little women I've come across. I'd love to see a blog about you written by people who barely know you, but have had less than perfect interactions with your highness. You need to grow up and stop thinking you're such hot shit. So what you've been on WBUR? The great thing about the station is that it always gives both sides of the issue a voice. But that doesn't mean we don't know a twit when we hear one.

eeka said...

Usually I delete anonymous comments that don't add anything, but the previous one was pretty funny. Person who has presumably not met me, and is making character attacks about they don't like me commenting about someone I don't know? Heeeeeeeeee.

(Also, it continues to be funny that I've never made any judgment either way about Delores Handy as a person, yet people are quick to think I'm dismissing her entire existence merely by posting phonetic transcriptions of things she's said. If they've been following these posts, they'd know that I think she's a brilliant journalist, which is why it's all the more amusing that her current job is reading headlines despite not being too skilled at public speaking. See, if she was just some total dolt, she wouldn't be worth listening to or commenting on. But I'm guessing this sort of thing is lost on internet trolls.)

Anonymous said...

Ms. Hardy got me listening to sports talk on the am side of the dial. There is no doubt that her delivery and mistakes annoy a number of listeners. When she comes on I tune out.

Charlotte Katz said...

"massa two zets" on Jan 4, 2010 - that's our commonwealth!

Jake said...

Delores appears to have a blend of several dialects and accents, the most prevalent of which is African American Vernacular English (AAVE) as characterized by her devoicing of voiced sounds, e.g., "Harvard" pronounced as "Harvart," "point" as "pawnt," "month" as "mahth," and the ending "-ing" as "-ink." She seems to use British English pronunciation for words such as "twenty" and "plenty," though, pronouncing the "t" as a "t" rather than a "d" as is common in American English. She also seems to use quite a bit of Standard American English pronunciation as well. I continue to be confused and entertained by her pronunciation. She is entitled to use whatever pronunciation she chooses as long as it is acceptable to her employer, as strange and eclectic as it may be. My only complaint is that she has far too many flubs especially for a veteran announcer such as she. In the end, on WBUR she is a voice and I would prefer it to be consistent and certainly without the flubs.

Jake said...

Delores appears to have a blend of several dialects and accents, the most prevalent of which is African American Vernacular English (AAVE) as characterized by her devoicing of voiced sounds, e.g., "Harvard" pronounced as "Harvart," "point" as "pawnt," "month" as "mahth," and the ending "-ing" as "-ink." She seems to use British English pronunciation for words such as "twenty" and "plenty," though, pronouncing the "t" as a "t" rather than a "d" as is common in American English. She also seems to use quite a bit of Standard American English pronunciation as well. I continue to be confused and entertained by her pronunciation. She is entitled to use whatever pronunciation she chooses as long as it is acceptable to her employer, as strange and eclectic as it may be. My only complaint is that she has far too many flubs especially for a veteran announcer such as she. In the end, on WBUR she is a voice and I would prefer it to be consistent and certainly without the flubs.

eeka said...

Jake, exactly. The devoicing is consistent with AAVE as you mention, yet it isn't consistent, and certainly doesn't sound like she's using AAVE whatsoever. Most speakers who can go back and forth between AAVE and SAE (and can blend the two) have a natural flow and rhythm to their speech, which just doesn't happen with her. It's just too arbitrary. She does some cluster reduction as one might hear in AAVE, but also does cluster, um, overemphasis at other times. Including two occurrences of the same word fairly close to one another, which is just weird. Same with some of the vowel shifting, where all in one sentence she'll have Southern American English vowels, Canadian English vowels, British English vowels, and sometimes random Cajun English or Hawaiian English or whoknowswhat sounds creeping in. It's just so unusual!

The really intriguing thing is that during the rare, um, puonts that she's actually interviewing people or doing a piece she wrote, her speech style is completely natural and fluid and pleasing to listen to -- though still has some subtle weird inconsistencies. She's a rather brilliant journalist. I'm guessing that she'd probably sound great if she just spoke in whatever her native/natural dialect/sociolect is (guessing some combination of AAVE/plains/South). It's really too bad if she, like many people, was made to feel like she needed to talk like someone of a different race/class/region than herself, especially because it's resulted in her sounding strange and contrived.

It can get aggravating to listen to her read headlines when she's stumbling over every other word and trying so hard to speak in dialects that don't come naturally to her. Her job 99% of the time at WBUR seems to be to read things, and she doesn't read aloud well. Her original journalism is great though, and she sounds normal and genuine when delivering it. Of course, I'd never wish that she ONLY work on the longer pieces, because I don't know what I'd do without my daily dose of puonts and Thursdees. I get really depressed when she's on vacation. ;o)

eeka said...

Kate, the only one who is ever difficult to understand (for me) is Delores Handy, and it only happens when she's reading. When she's interviewing someone or talking about something the station is doing, she has a normal, natural flow. Bob Oakes just sounds goofy when he says "neeewwws" and "Bob Eewwkes!"

Hmm, I haven't noticed the l-dropping, but I'll listen more closely. As far as I'm aware, final-L dropping occurs in some varieties of African American Vernacular English, but Ira Glass certainly isn't an AAVE speaker, nor have I heard him sound like he's trying to be. I'll have to listen for that. It might be less of an actual drop and more just typical American lazy pronunciation, which doesn't stand out to me as long as it's consistent and has a natural flow to it. If you have the time, find me a podcast where someone does it.

midwesternheart said...

I just googled Delores Handy because for years I have retreated from my radio when I hear her overly dramatic enunciation. She makes everything, including a forecast of light showers, sound SO IMPORTANT. Now I know I am not alone. She (along with the self-satisfied underwriters who advertise continually on this station) is the reason I have retreated to music with a smattering of news delivered with a low-key voice. (Try WUMB fm)

Anonymous said...

I must admit the stumbling also drives me crazy - especially when there is the pause as though a sentence is complete and then she jumps in with an over emphasized continuation of the sentence. It just ruins the continuity of what is being said.

On another note, it's not about being 'nice' as Anonymous says in post 6, it's about being professional.. I wish I could defend my job by claiming I was a strong, loving person - even if I wasn't doing my job properly. You do your job well (by producer AND listener standards) or you don't. Simple as that. I believe the listeners have spoken..

eeka said...

Most recent anon, you seem to get it! No one's saying she's a bad person, and in fact a lot of people here are saying she's a brilliant journalist, but she doesn't do well delivering headlines, which is what most of her current job entails.

ChEx said...

Thank you!!! I googled for Dorles Handy annoying, and this post came up, I couldn't agree more. I stopped listening to WBUR years ago, and I just tuned in recently online and was amazed to still hear her on the air. Her enuncation is horrible, like nails on a chalkboard..

Anonymous said...

I know I'm late to this party, but did anyone else hear Ms. Handy report that a a soldier in Afghanistan dies in "an I.U.D. explosion" last week?

eeka said...

Yes! I heard that but got too busy too post, or had already posted that day, or something. Wouldn't want people to think I'm obsessed now! ;o)

Karin said...

Late-comer to the thread but I am so relieved that others are irritated by Ms. Handy's pronunciation idiosyncrasies. My comment, along with others' apparently, is not intended as a criticism of her as a person It's just a continuous cause for my maniacal yelling into the deaf radio, especially when she leaves "t" and "d" off the end of words! Thank you all for the camaraderie!

Anonymous said...

this post is awesome. i'm so glad to know i'm not the only one that gets aggravated listening to dolores!

one of the ones that really gets me is when 'npr morning edition'

becomes 'npr bordeen edition'

bordeen?

i often yell at the radio and i generally listen to wgbh for the commute home... i love that smooth talking Margot Stage

i'm sure she's really a great lady and all... a real sweetheart irl. but the job is read the news in clear, understandable english and she really doesn't do a good job of that. i always assume it must be due to tenure at the station or something. but professionally speaking... it's hard to understand how she keeps that job.

Anonymous said...

To complicate things a bit, Dolores misreads her text at least 3 times per day. I find myself rooting for her during a news update, hoping she makes it to the end without stumbling.

Anonymous said...

I wait for the stumbles too! I can feel myself gripping my steering wheel tighter and tighter. I wonder if there is some uptick in accidents as people around the Commonwealth are so distracted by the slip ups. Egad.

Anonymous said...

So many NPR announcers have little quirks that dig under the skin. Can Cory Flintoff emphasize those F's a little more? One of my eardrums is still partially functioning.

Criticizing the voice is not criticizing the person. Daniel Schorr was a beautiful, brave man, whose journalism spoke for itself. Unfortunately, it could not do so over the radio, so we were made aware that a man on Nixon's Enemies List could sound like Grover after enjoying a big spliff.

Speaking of which, if Delores would take a hit thereof, I think she'd relax and speak with her ordinary voice.

Shailini said...

OMG as my kids would say - I thought I was the only one that Ms. Dolores Handy drove insane!! And this is no bias - if you're in public radio, you should speak well. She says "Tin" for "ten" and "IN P R" for "NPR" - so frustrating, that whenever she comes on, I actually turn my radio to another station!! and I am a loyal, ardent listener and contributor to NPR)

someone said Bob Oakes is no bargain either - I agree - why does he drag out " mooorning edition" and his name, " bob oaaakkkes"???

I love NPR but why can't they hire articulate, well-spoken people? I jsut don't get it

eeka said...

Well, she is articulate in the broader sense of the word, as in, conveying ideas well through words. In terms of her ability to consistently articulate words without saying things like "puont" though, um, hmm...

Paul said...

Baub Ewks' Mooorning Eh di shun.
- I've notice that some broadcaster want to have their own idiosycratic pronunciation, like a sportcaster's catchphase.
That announcer who's on at around 5am has an annoyingly eccentric pronuciation of "WBUR."

The one intolerable person there, and the one they really ought to can is Tom Ashbrook. Around a decade ago when he first appeared BUR had two talk shows, and the cost was too high to keep both. The other person (whose name I can't recall) was decent. Inexpicably they let him go and kept the dope.
Aside from his annoying vocal mannerism, the growl he regularly inserts into a vowel and his habit of interrupting guests (sometimes in the middle of an interesting thought to ask about something else), his excessive fondness for folksy phrases, and his urge to "translate" what a guest has just said into something that they did not say (to make it more easy to understand?) - yes, aside from all of those little things he is a lousy interviewer.

As for Delores, I feel a little sorry for her that everyone's ganging up. I've never had a problem with the content of what she says. But the reality is that when she comes on I immediately switch to WGBH (whose announcers do not all annoy me.) Frankly, she sounds like a witch. And to hear her saying things like "pwant," and "thlee" and "Massatoosis" constantly is so distracting from the content.
Interestingly when she was on the local news show she sounded just fine - aside from the Ted Baxter affectation that all those news readers were told to put on. There's a YouTube video as illustration.

Kai Ryssdal - another one whose content is fine but whose manner of speaking is annoying. He just wants us to know that he's the coolest dude to ever walk up out of the California surf.